Top Tip 1: Not Difficult
Our first tip is that making liquors is not difficult (see home made liquors). If you can make Lemonade, you can make liquors. However, here are some suggestions to make it even easier:
Top Tip 2: Filtering
When your liquor is ready to be bottled, you will first need to filter it. Most older recipe books advise use of a cloth or a dishtowel. Some of the newer ones advise use of coffee filters or other such items.
In our experience, all such advise is bad. Ignore it. The easiest method by far is to take a standard kitchen drainer and line it with cotton pads. Simply poor the liquid to be filtered into the lined drainer and you will be done in minutes.
If you are filtering a large volume of liquid, the cotton pads may become clogged and the liquid no longer drain through. Stop pouring, allow the remaining liquid to drain, gently press on the cotton pads to release any liquid remaining, through the pads away and put into another layer of cotton pads. Then continue filtering the liquid.
Having make many liquors, this is really our number 1 tip. The most time-consuming part of making most liquors is filtering and this approach can shorter the task from over an hour to a matter of minutes. We used all the traditional approaches for years, experimenting until we found this approach. Items such as dishcloths and coffee filters quickly become blocked and then drain extremely slowly. Cotton pads combine a coarse weave with a thick structure, so they are as effective as cloth (or coffee filters) at filtering, without easily becoming blocked. Also, one can simply throw the cotton away after (it isn't expensive and you don't need much) rather than being left with a pile of fruit-stained dirty cloths.
Top Tip 3: Sterile
Liquors should be produced and stored in bottles which are sterile, with an air-tight seal. There are a number of ways to make the bottles sterile, including:
- Boil: Put the bottle and bottle top in a pot of water. Ensure that the bottle is filled with water so that it is submerged rather than floating. Bring to a boil and leave it boiling for several minutes.
- Bake: Put the bottle and bottle top in the over and bake it for several minutes. I personally don't like this method for two reasons. One is that there is a greater risk of the bottle breaking due to thermal shock, the other is that many bottle top lids have a plastic coating, which will melt in the oven. However, some people prefer this method as it is faster than boiling for large number of bottles.
In my personal experience, while it is important for the bottle and bottle top to be clean, I find that the alcohol kills almost all bacteria so being sterile is not that essential to making liquors.
Top Tip 4: Air-tight lid
Liquors should be kept in a bottle with a air-tight lid. Otherwise, air can move in and out of the bottle, reacting with the liquor as it does so (the main reaction is known as oxidization). In a short time, this will destroy the taste of the liquor and eventually make it completely undrinkable. It will also allow the alcohol to evaporate, which not only affects the taste, but also allows bacteria and fungus to enter as the main protective ingredient of a liquor is the alcohol.
A number of recipes require that the liquor be stored in a glass container for a number of weeks or months before bottling. Both this container, and the bottles in which the liquor is eventually put, must have an air-tight seal.
An air-tight lid is critical. If the lid does not fit well, it is certain that the liquor will go off, wasting your time and ingredients.